A Weekly Family Meal

For a few years now, my parents and I have gone out to dinner every Friday. My mom came up with the idea as a way for us to go out and regularly try something new. In the beginning, it was fairly easy to pick a completely different restaurant each week; after so much time, though, we tend to go back to the same ones over and over. There are only so many to choose from! Like I've said before, though, I love trying new places, so I make a constant effort to find a dinner location that we've never been to.

Tonight, it was Dino's Lounge in Ferndale. I've actually been there once before, but it was years ago with Megan, and my parents (and Billy) had definitely never been. I hadn't even thought of it until Megan and I drove past it last week on our way to Como's and Pinwheel for our incredibly late lunch and dessert. Like Como's, Dino's seems to be based on Italian food. In my opinion, a preponderance of restaurants seem to dabble in Italian food and get it utterly, utterly wrong; usually, it's less than nothing to write home about. Based on my Chicken Scaloppini Risotto tonight, though...Dino's has it right!

I am very picky with my risotto. The first time I'd ever had it, I made it myself and, while the texture was beyond comfort-food-satisfying, it was far too flavorful to stand for more than a couple spoonfuls. It took me three tries to realize that I didn't like the chicken broth flavor, which all of the recipes I'd used called for. Later, I discovered Brio's Sweet Potato and Chicken Risotto, which I thought was amazing when I tried a bit of my mother's, but found too flavorful, yet again, when I finally had a dish of my own. Instead of overpowering chicken broth, however, it had an overpowering flavor of wine. I have yet to perfect risotto at home, but I finally found a dish I can eat and eat...and eat...until I'm actually full.

After dinner, we headed over to Pinwheel because I, of course, needed to satisfy my week-long craving for macarons! I also wanted to brag about all the more interesting selections they have. This time, instead of getting just one of each cookie I wanted to try, I felt the need to ensure I wouldn't be longing for anything particular all day, every day, for the second week in a row. So, I got a few "cappuccino coins," a Mexican chocolate cupcake, a nice cold lemon buttermilk bar, and two of every flavor of macaron. Two...of every...flavor. That's two blackberry, two strawberry, two lemon, two pistachio, two vanilla, two chocolate, and two coffee. I even had a little photo shoot just to show how adorably delectable they really are!

Now, these cookies, as small as they appear, are definitely sweet enough for a person to eat just one. It's really all you need to be satisfied! For that moment...The next day, however, there are no guarantees, which is why I wanted so many! I figured, I want one of each so that I can sample the different flavors, but I want a second of each just in case there's something I really like that I want to sample again :) Since I don't make too many trips to Ferndale and sandwich cookies tend to be tedious, I'm certain I won't overfill myself on these, so this little overindulgence should be just fine :)

Sunday, I'm going to my parents' house so I can help my mom try a new method for cooking ribs, which is how I attained that tender, fragile meat that slipped right from the bone last week (recipe courtesy of Megan's boyfriend, Steve, man-cook extraordinaire!), as well as learn to properly cut up a whole chicken. Since we'll be having dinner there, I thought it only appropriate that I bring a dessert!

So, tomorrow, I expect, hopefully, to either make several tiny blackberry, red currant, and nectarine tarts (each fruit its own individual tart and all tarts baked rather than fresh, which I tend not to prefer) or an attempt at the original gooey butter cake recipe. I've made the common household recipe (in a chocolate version) just about a bazillion times and finally tried, this past week, to make my own. I used my personal brownie recipe as the cake base and then used the gooey butter cake topping. The treats that came out of the oven, I must say, were out of this world...texture-wise. I thought they must literally be the best little hot fudge cakes I'd ever eaten. The only problem is how blatantly rich and sweet they are. In an effort to find out if alternate recipes exist, I discovered that the most common one found is not the original, which, I can only imagine, is not nearly as overly sweet as it doesn't contain a block of cream cheese paired with a pound (yes, a pound) of powdered sugar.

We'll see what happens tomorrow!

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